John McAfee, a former programmer for NASA during the 70s and creator of the first anti-virus, entered the packed Blockchain Money Conference room to rousing applause.
“Information only has value based on who wants to buy the info and its content”, McAfee said, but “Bitcoin is the information. The value of information is information itself,” he emphasized.
There are 100 million phones that have spyware or a keylogger, he continued, and hackers are monitoring these phones. On their systems, they have criteria laid down, notify me if someone downloads one of these 20 wallets, McAfee said. Now you go and download Mycelium…
“There will come one day when everybody’s wallet is emptied,” McAfee said to a gripped packed room. “There will never be a software wallet that is completely secure, not as long as you are using mobile wallets, because they were designed to spy on you, not to provide security,” McAfee told the attendees. Hardware wallets are the only way, he said.
Moreover, “printers are the most insecure devices because they are easy to break into,” McAfee stated, arguing that for security one needs to consider both hardware and software. In explaining that they are setting up a new mining pool, “we re-wrote all the software,” he said. “What’s out there is the most insecure piece of software I have ever seen.”
For his own system “we have a device in front of the router that sniffs everything that happens,” he explained. “Within milliseconds of a hacker gaining entry we are aware” through analysis of anomalies. Bitmain will use our facilities, our security, he said, while providing the hardware.
This is what you all have to be doing, he emphasized. “You have to take security seriously, you have to,” he said. Threats are invisible and unknown, he continued, an invisible ghost trying to steal what you have and you don’t even know, he said.
“Why did I get involved in bitcoin?” – He asked. Because it will become the standard for the world, he replied. “If not bitcoin, it will be an alt-coin,” McAfee stated.
“I don’t agree with the DAO hardfork”, he said in passing during the presentation to cheers in the room. Once the presentation was over, I found him surrounded by a crowd taking pictures and managed to quickly ask some questions, beginning with why he doesn’t agree with the DAO hardfork.
“The DAO hardfork reverses time,” he said. Time goes only one way, forward, it can’t go backwards. “It’s messing with maths” he continued, with the fundamental underlying system.
Are you aware of the blocksize debate, I asked. “Of course” he interrupted, do you have an opinion? “I have none” he said. The debate is insignificant, he stated, it doesn’t matter. If the blocksize is not increased, there will be layer twos, he said in a seemingly completely indifferent manner. I’m 71, he continued, I’ve seen plenty of things that seemed unsolvable, they’re always solved.
I wondered if he is moving towards greater involvement in bitcoin and becoming part of the community. “I’m already involved,” he said. “We’ve invested $1 million in this space already,” he elaborated.
McAfee’s attendance at the conference is very much yet another sign of the continuing attraction of bitcoin. The only space where high financiers, Members of Parliament, pioneers in computing, the intellectually curious and the ordinary man outside who somehow made his way into the conference, intermingle in a rich and passionate pastiche that aims to bring cutting edge technology to the failed banking system, which almost clogged the world’s artery just eight years ago.
A powerful vision that we may, sometimes, lose sight of, but has seemingly attracted such diverse and colorful individuals as Milo Yiannopoulos, Mike Cernovich, Kim DotCom and, now, John McAfee, to make a reality, in a grassroots manner, that great vision: a people’s money with no central authority where no direct permission is required to exchange value.
Images from Shutterstock and Andrew Quenston for CCN.